Caked soil is a common, albeit an annoying agricultural concern. Caked soil forms a barrier between the ground and the outside environment, which can hinder the absorption of water and minerals by the soil. This can lead to plant malnutrition and stunted growth. At TGI Australia, we completely understand the compounds and requirements of all soil types, that’s why we design each irrigation system to best suit your requirements.
What is caked soil?
Water clogging is an agricultural phenomenon in which the soil is watered more frequently than it can absorb. This means that the water floats on top of the soil and eventually evaporates. The evaporated water can leave behind a thick film of mineral salts on the soil. Gradually, this film hardens to become solid and cake-like.
This layer of hardened minerals does not let any water pass through. The soil becomes caked and, eventually, infertile.
Here are some ways to prevent this nuisance from occurring.
1. Shower, Don’t Pour
Elementary science has taught us that the four factors needed to grow plants are soil, seed, water, and sunlight. However, they never specified the volume of water needed.
Most enthusiastic first-time gardeners wake up and water their plants daily. They think this is beneficial to the plants, when, realistically, their plants might be getting harmed instead.
Do not use a naked water pipe to water your plants. It is not easy to control the volume of water passing through, and the plants are not watered evenly. Invest in a watering can with a small sprinkler containing many tiny holes. This will help you be mindful of the volume of water used, and also give your grass and plants an even shower.
Another plus side is that you will be conserving previously wasted water.
2. Know Your Soil
Typical gardening soil is made of many layers. The topsoil is rich in nutrients and loves water. Right beneath the topsoil is the subsoil, which is composed of clay. This layer of clay absorbs and releases water in huge quantities, leaving those distinctive cracks in the soil.
A pro-tip is to nourish the topsoil so that it absorbs the water instead of the clay.
Plugging holes in the topsoil to let air flow and adding more fertile humus soil can prevent waterlogging.
3. Add an Anti-Caking Agent
Anti-caking agents are oil-based substances that are added to fertilizers to help prevent the caking of soil. These are powdery and can be easily mixed with fertilizers that are then spread onto the soil.
These agents have one function: absorb excess water so that it does not evaporate.
Another plus side of using these agents is that they are organic and environmentally friendly. This means that the crops grown on such soil will not be detrimental to health.
4. Reduce Surface Run-off
Sometimes, due to wind or water erosion, the fertile topmost layer of the soil can wither off. This withering of soil is known as surface run-off. The removal of the topsoil means that the land is barren and will not absorb water well and will clog it instead.
The clogged water can then evaporate, leaving the salts that dry up and harden.
To prevent surface run-off, invest in the appropriate sprinklers for the types of soil you have, the best type of sprinklers for caked soil are ones that have smaller droplets with a wide range of spray. These machines are incredible at spraying an appropriate amount of water droplets evenly through the surface of the soil. Be sure to follow these handy tips. And remember, the soil and crop are only as good as the gardener itself.